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Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center intern Blaire Umhau was awarded Best Presentation by an Undergraduate for her nutrient and phytoplankton poster at the spring Atlantic Estuarine Research Society conference held in Cape May, N.J., in March 2012.
The Atlantic Estuarine Research Society brings together students, scientists, managers and educators from Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to discuss estuarine and coastal environmental issues and policies with the intent to foster a broader interest in the environment by increasing public awareness of current issues. The spring’s meeting theme and panel discussion centered on “Climate Vulnerability & Adaptations: Tactics and Solutions,” with talks organized into sessions, a press release states.
Umhau worked with ERC Research Assistant Professor Richard Lacouture as an intern during the summer of 2011. Her project was titled “Phytoplankton Survey of St. Leonard Creek and Nearby Areas” and focused on issues that are paramount regarding the decrease in the quality of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem over the last 40 years, the release states. She conducted field surveys of phytoplankton communities and nutrient levels in St. Leonard Creek and the adjacent Patuxent River. In order to determine if the habitat met the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for its restoration, water samples were collected on a weekly basis and analyzed for nutrient, chlorophyll a, phytoplankton and picoplankton content, as well as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and light attenuation. These findings indicate that the habitat quality of the survey area suffers from high phytoplankton levels partially caused by the excess of nutrients, according to the release.
Umhau is currently a senior at Miami University, majoring in marine science and chemistry. She is interested in developing a career in research and has participated in several summer programs, including one with Horn Point Research Laboratory and one with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.